First, BMWFilms, now Amazon Theater

From the team who ruined comes a new collection of dependent shorts, just in time for the holidays. Amazon Theater is a series of five short films "featur[ing] products you can purchase at Amazon."

Someone's not getting it in a very deep way. On paper, Amazon Theater should be an ad/film/shoppertainment convergence dream-come-true:

  • "Definitely available" actors, Minnie Driver, Daryl Hannah, Chris Noth, and Blair Underwood (now rebranded as "Amazon Theater celebrities")
  • A database of every product every one of your customers has looked at or bought over the last eight years
  • Credit card financing [very indie, especially for shorts]
  • Unlimited bandwidth
    ...and a whole mess of directors named Scott: Ridley, Tony, Jordan, Jake.

    The films include clickable shopping credits, both for featured and "celebrity products," but it only goes so far. Whether that makes it half-ass, or just ass, I can't say.

    Take the first short, "Portrait," an at-once vapid and cynical Heathers-meets-Shallow Hal "fable" which finally answers the best-forgotten question, what did Amanda's agency on Melrose Place actually create? You can buy the skinny villainess's corporate bitchwear, but for the cruelly written loser fatchick's blouse, you'll have to go to QVC. Annd there's no link to the dinnerplates she's constantly eating off of--at work, in her boss's office--even though they're on sale, 47% off, for $79.99. Once you unpack it, the story turns on a snide conversation about reading spam, which includes a mention of "bayesian filters", but there's no "Spam for Dummies" tie-in. And while they offer Sephora makeup "used in the film," they ignore the mall-makeover studio, Glamourshots which is the story's manipulative McGuffin.

    Seriously, Amazon Theater is to short films what a hole is to a donut. Or what a donut is to a diabetic. Or what a brain is to the marketing exec who greenlighted this thing. Can't wait to see how the Chris Noth one turns out.

    Shopporrifying links:
    "Enjoy the exclusive films in Amazon Theater, our holiday gift to you."
    Buy this Fiestaware Periwinkle 16-piece Dinnerware set for your pathological office binges!
    Beauty pageant makeup can reveal your inner worth! Shop at Sephora, or go to the portrait studio at the mall!
    [via fimoculous]

  • Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

    Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

    comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
    greg [at] greg [dot ] org

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